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having brought in their verdict, departed, and the dead bird was left alone.
In falling out of the elm, the rook had alighted partly on his side and partly on his back, so that he could only flutter one wing, the other being held down by his own weight. He had probably died from picking up poisoned grain somewhere, or from a parasite. The weather had been open, and he could not have been starved. At a distance, the rook's plumage appears black; but close at hand it will be found a fine blue-black, glossy, and handsome.
These peacocks are the best “rain-makers ” in the place; whenever they cry much, it is sure to rain; and if they persist day after day, the rain is equally continuous. From the wall by the barn, or the elm-branch above their cry resounds like the wail of a gigantic cat, and is audible half a mile
In the summer, I found one of them, a peacock in the full brilliance of his colours, on a rail in the hedge under a spreading maple bush. His rich-hued neck, the bright light and shadow, the tall green meadow grass, brought together the finest colours. It is curious that a bird so distinctly foreign, plumed for the Asiatic sun, should fit so well with English meads. His splendid neck immediately pleases, pleases the first time it is seen, and on the fiftieth occasion. I see these every day, and always stop to look at them; the colour excites the sense of beauty in the eye, and the shape satisfies the idea of form. The undulating curve of the neck is at once approved by the intuitive judgment of the mind, and it is a pleasure to the mind to reiterate that judgment frequently. It needs no teaching to see its beauty —the feeling comes of itself.
How different with the turkey-cock which struts round the same barn! A fine big bird he is, no doubt; but there is no intrinsic beauty about him; on the contrary, there is something fantastic in his style and plumage. He has a way of drooping his wings as if they were armour-plates to shield him from a shot. The ornaments upon his head and beak are in the most awkward position. He was put together in a dream, of uneven and odd pieces that live and move, but do not fit. Ponderously gawky, he steps as if the world was his, like a "motley” crowned in sport. He is good eating, but he is not beautiful. After the eye has been accustomed to him for some time-after you have fed him every day and come to take an interest in him-after you have seen a hundred turkey-cocks, then he may become passable, or, if you have the fancier's taste, exquisite. Education is requisite first; you do not fall in love at first sight. The same applies to fancy-pigeons, and indeed many pet animals, as pugs, which come in time to be animated with a soul in some people's eyes. Compare a pug with a greyhound straining at the leash. Instantly he is slipped, he is gone as a wave let loose. His flexible back bends and undulates, arches and unarches, rises and falls as a wave rises and rolls on. His pliant ribs open; his whole frame “ gives" and stretches, and closing again in a curve, springs forward. Movement is as easy to him as to the wave, which melting, is re-moulded, and sways onward. The curve of the greyhound is not only the line of beauty, but a line which suggests motion; and it is the idea of motion, I think, which so strongly appeals to the mind.
We are often scornfully treated as a nation by people who write about art, because they say we have no taste; we cannot make art jugs for the mantelpiece, crockery for the bracket, screens for the fire ; we cannot even decorate the wall of a room as it should be done. If these are the standards by which a sense of art is to be tried, their scorn is to a certain degree just. But suppose we try another standard. Let us put aside the altogether false opinion that art consists alone in something actually made, or painted, or decorated, in carvings, colourings, touches of brush or chisel. Let us look at our lives. I mean to say that there is no nation so thoroughly and earnestly artistic as the English in their lives, their joys, their thoughts, their hopes. Who loves nature like an Englishman? Do Italians care for their pale skies? I never heard so. all over the world in search of beauty—to the keen north, to the cape whence the midnight sun is visible, to the extreme south, to the interior of Africa, gazing at the vast expanse of Tanganyika or the marvellous falls of the Zambesi. We admire the temples and tombs and palaces of India; we speak of the Alhambra of Spain almost in whispers, so deep is our reverent admiration; we visit the Parthenon. There is not a picture or a statue in Europe we have not sought. We climb the mountains for their views and the sense of grandeur they inspire; we roam over the
wide ocean to the coral islands of the far Pacific; we go deep into the woods of the West; and we stand dreamily under the Pyramids of the East. What part is there of the English year which has not been sung by the poets ? all of whom are full of its loveliness ; and our greatest of all, Shakspeare, carries, as it were, armfuls of violets, and scatters roses and golden wheat across his pages, which are simply fields written with human life.
This is art indeed-art in the mind and soul, infinitely deeper, surely, than the construction of crockery, jugs for the mantelpiece, dados, or even of paintings. The lover of nature has the highest art in his soul. So, I think, the bluff English farmer who takes such pride and delight in his dogs and horses, is a much greater man of art than any Frenchman preparing with cynical dexterity of hand some coloured presentment of flashy beauty for the salon. The English girl who loves her horse-and English girls do love their horses most intensely—is infinitely more artistic in that fact than the cleverest painter on enamel. They who love nature are the real artists; the artists are copyists. St. John the naturalist, when exploring the recesses of the Highlands, relates how he frequently came in contact with men living in the rude Highland way-forty years since, no education then-whom at first you would suppose to be morose, unobservant, almost stupid. But when they found out that their visitor would stay for hours gazing in admiration at their glens and mountains, their demeanour changed. Then the truth appeared ; they were fonder than he
was himself of the beauties of their hills and lakes ; they could see the art there, though perhaps they had never seen a picture in their lives, certainly not any blue-and-white crockery. The Frenchman flings his fingers dexterously over the canvas, but he has never had that in his heart which the rude Highlander had.
The path across the arable field was covered with a design of birds' feet. The reversed broad arrow of the fore-claws, and the straight line of the hinder claw, trailed all over it in curving lines. In the dry dust, their feet were marked as clearly as a seal on wax-their trails wound this way and that, and crossed as their quick eyes had led them to turn to find something. For fifty or sixty yards the path was worked with an inextricable design; it was a pity to step on it and blot out the traces of those little feet. Their hearts so happy, their eyes so observant, the earth so bountiful to them with its supply of food, and the late warmth of the autumn sun lighting up their life. They know and feel the different loveliness of the seasons as much as we do. Every one must have noticed their joyousness in spring; they are quiet, but so very, very busy in the height of summer; as autumn comes on they obviously delight in the occasional hours of warmth. The marks of their little feet are almost sacred—a joyous life has been there—do not obliterate it. It is so delightful to know that something is happy.
The hawthorn hedge that goes down the slope is more coloured than the hedges in the sheltered plain.